Shangrao, Jiangxi Province….New Home

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I just finished my health exam for my Chinese residency permit. During the EKG portion of the test, I am still wondering why they placed some wires on my testicles. Maybe it is a new Chinese medical procedure.

After my vacation, it was back to Ganyu. No rest for the weary. I had six days to get my affairs in order before I had to go to my new school and home in Shangrao. I packed two large plastic totes, a canvas duffle bag and a large suitcase with most of my belongings. The company mailed them to Shangrao. I am still waiting for their arrival. I was busy going around and saying farewell to all my friends in Ganyu. That was emotionally tiring. I had developed such great friendships in the year and half I was in Ganyu. And, I had some business items to take care of, like closing my bank accounts.

Saying farewell to my friends was the hardest part. My best friend in Ganyu and I had such a great time together. He not only was losing me from his daily life, but his best friend from his school days. At least he has his girlfriend. I am sad to know that I will not be there to see him get married next year. I doubt I will travel all that way for a two hour luncheon ceremony. And, He is opening a restaurant. I would have liked to have seen his new business.

Then there is my Chinese “brother” in Xinpu. It is hard to say goodbye to him. He has been in my life nearly the entire time I have been in China. We have traveled together. I have gotten to know his family and enjoyed their company. I have helped Jack with some life decisions he has had to make. And, I assisted him with his summer camp. We have a great relationship. Tears were swelled in our eyes as we hugged each other and walked away from one another.

Then there are my kids from Xinpu. I taught them in summer camp two years ago. Since the camp, we would chat on QQ and get together for lunch once every few months. They are my kids. They are family. I care and love them as if they are my own. We had one final lunch. Of the 30 students I had in camp, 20 of them came to the lunch. I showed them the camp video I had made for them. We joked and talked about many things. I tried to spend as much time with all of them that I could. And, we took on last group picture together. No tears were shed. But, there was heartbreak in the embraces we shared. I left them without saying “goodbye”. Instead, I told them I would “see you later”. I hope that comes to become reality.

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Ganyu  had changed some since I left in July for camp. The mall that had just opened four months ago with a movie theater is now closed. Poor planning and high rents shuttered the stores. Only the cinema on the third floor remains open. The large bookstore is closed, being replaced with yet another jewelry shop. There are already four in a row next to it. That is one thing that there is plenty of in Ganyu…jewelry stores and cell phone stores. Some new restaurants. And, some that are no longer there. Ganyu is always changing. It will be interesting to see it in the future.

It was finally moving day. An early taxi ride to the bus station. A 7 hour bus trip to Shanghai. And, a 6 hour tip on a sleeper train in the middle of the night. We arrived in Shangrao at 3:00 AM. We checked into a hotel for a few hours. I pulled back the blanket of my bed that night. The sheet had sex stains all over it. Not really the ideal way to start my stay in Shangrao. I got dressed and went to get a new one. This would be the beginning of some disappointments.

The next morning, we start the day around 9:00. No rest for me. I am already tired emotionally and physically. The first order of business was to get me into my new apartment. It was just a short walk down the street. We get to the gate of my new home. One of the TAs pointed to the corner apartment and said that if I come in after midnight, I need to let the caretaker know and then wake him to let me in the locked gate. NOPE!!!!! I was not having it. I told the TA that either I get a key so that I do not have to wake the poor guy up, or we need to find a new apartment. And, I began to walk away from the apartment for emphasis. Needless to say, I think I am one of the few residents in the complex with a key to the gate. It is not that I stay out late at night. But, I refuse to have to be babysitted as a grown man.

We climb the narrow stairs of the apartment. It is an old building from the 1970’s or 1980’s. Very dark and dirty on the outside. When I discussed my transfer with Tracy in Beijing, I was very clear about my housing. I was not going to stay int he apartment they had me in June. It was completely too dirty and big. So, I asked for a small apartment, with a clean kitchen, and a place where I could feel comfortable and call home. When I opened the door, I was definitely not pleased. It was small. And, the kitchen was ok to cook in. But, that was all. It was dirty, poorly furnished with very old furniture, and a definite step down from what I had in Ganyu. There was no TV. No sofa. There was only two large wooden chairs. There was no mattress on the bed. Only a very thin sleeping pad on top of some wood slats. The kitchen had grease on the cabinets. And, there were dead bugs and spider webs on the walls. I was so disappointed, I left the apartment to contemplate my situation. I did let the TAs know how very disappointed I was in the place.

Everyone came down from the apartment to find me so they can get lunch. I am definitely not hungry. But, I go with them to try to be friendly. But, being as tired as I was, disappointed in my new “home”, and questioning my situation, I did not eat. Instead, I went to the local market and bought some cleaning supplies. I began to try to make this a home for me. I called Tracy from Beijing and told her how disappointed I was. She assured me that they would do what they could to make it better. The rest of the day, I cleaned and cleaned. I still have more to do.

The night was not a good one sleeping on the bed. It was like sleeping on the ground. The next day, the TAs and I headed out to get some things accomplished. I had to get some new photos completed for my residency card. We tried to going to the bank on a Saturday to open a new account. But, they were too busy. So, we ventured off to some furniture stores to find a sofa and a mattress for me. Everything was too expensive in the stores, so we went to a second hand store. I found a nice sofa there and had it delivered to the apartment. It was just a little too large for the door, so I had to take the legs off the sofa. It barely fit. But, it was in the apartment. After the sofa, we headed to some other furniture stores. after looking at about a dozen mattresses, I final found one. It was the cheapest. But, it seemed to be comfortable. I bought it and had it delivered. I spent the rest of the day chatting with Tracy who was in town and went to meet the headmaster of the school. That was just a hello introduction situation. The rest of the day was relaxing some.

Eventually I can make this feel like home. I am looking to have the apartment painted to make it look more clean. And, I have to wait for my things to arrive in the mail. Hopefully they will be here in the next few days. I will provide pictures of video of the apartment once I get it set up and cleaned.

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